Bryce Kepner Undergoes Transformation On Genre-Bending Debut
Every day, Bryce Kepner works hard for other people. He shouts into the void asking people to listen to the artists he represents on his label, Black Tube Socks, sending pitch emails and pressing cassettes and exploring the ins-and-outs of running a record label and a family at the same time.
Now, with the release of his own debut album Transitions, the Arizona-based multi-instrumentalist takes some time to advocate for himself. The thing about Transitions is that it’s almost impossible to categorize. There’s no one genre threaded through each track, no specific tone or emotion leading the way. What Bryce has made is something distinctly Bryce. Hear what he has to say about the album below:
It makes sense, then, that Bryce calls Transitions a journal — it’s not really an album or a collection of songs or stories, just a journal set to music. Opening with “Gave It All Away,” Transitions introduces us to the slow-burning thump of desperation in Bryce’s aching vocals and distant percussive shimmers. It’s a spooky start that ends abruptly before “Start Again” emerges in a booming wall of dreamy harmonies and smacks and slaps setting a steady beat. On “Follow You Down,” Bryce hops on the piano real quick to deliver a quirky mid-tempo effort detailed by surprising sparkles and hushed vocals. “I Gotta Go (Right Now)” takes a cue from Lou Reed’s infamous “Walk On The Wild Side,” its inimitable arrangement layered upon by Bryce’s soothing voice and soft snaps. Things begin booming and fluttering again on “Up/Down” but in the subtlest of ways — somehow Bryce is able to blend dark energy with floaty wisps of softness, a duality joined easily thanks to Bryce’s multi-instrumental and production prowess.
The halfway point of Transitions finds “The Hurt” delivering that bedroom-production quality — a lo-fi thrum with bluesy influence. On “I’ll Just Wait,” rich guitar strums and woozy bass join forces for the album’s best moment of drowsy blues-rock contemplation, while “The Ode” merely stays steady and shimmering as Bryce experiments with a palette of sound beeping and blooping under some of his best vocals. Things get darker again on “Sky Dreams,” built on a droning buzz like a tightrope Bryce’s creative liberties tip-toe on — it’s a fascinating sonic effort, slow-going but wholly unexpected, unlike anything, really. Transitions ends with “Chances,” plumes of zippy synth swelling in the distance before an eerie croon (flavored by the slightest twang) comes in to lead us out.
Bryce Kepner isn’t doing anything we could put a name to. We don’t quite know what it is he’s even doing — this is no genre we know of, no emotion we can pinpoint, no texture to hearken back to. Transitions is the result of a man who loves music and wants to make something special, something subtle, something real — to him and for his family. These are songs you need to think about. Let them soak into your skin. Let them tap you on the shoulder. These are stories you need to read with your ear.